WRENTHAM, Mass. – For the second time in the span of a little more than 24 hours, Attleboro faced the high-energy, high-pressure style of King Philip and for the second straight day exploded offensively in the second quarter to grab control of the game.
After scoring 26 points in the second on Saturday afternoon to turn an eight-point deficit into an eight-point halftime lead, Attleboro recorded 19 points in the second on Sunday to turn a one-point game into a double digit lead. KP never got closer than nine points in the second half, as Attleboro pulled out a 64-50 victory, extending its win streak to five.
“We’re not going to change,” Attleboro coach Marty Crowley explained. “We want to come out and play with the same tempo and I thought our kids did a nice job, second day in a row, of handling it. We spread the ball around pretty good and were able to get a lot of kids involved and that’s what you have to do against a team that plays this kind of defense.”
The Warriors started well offensively on Sunday with Emma Glaser (13 points and five steals) and Liv Lafond (10 points and eight rebounds) knocking down early threes. Glaser turned a steal into a breakaway layup for Caroline Aaron and KP jumped out to an 8-4 lead.
Attleboro turned things on a little earlier than it did on Saturday, starting to find the range midway through the first. Emma Reilly (15 points and seven rebounds) got her first basket on a put-back and Meghan Gordon (20 points and 15 rebounds) followed with an offensive rebound to put Attleboro in front for the first time.
In the second, Julia Marsden banked in a three-pointer to make it 17-15, which was the final lead of the game for the Warriors. Reilly answered with a mid-range jumper and then the lefty knocked down another pull-up jumper to put Attleboro ahead for good.
“They’re really good,” said KP coach Dan Nagle. “They have a lot of kids that just finish plays. They make those eight-foot, 10-foot jump shots, which most teams are missing those and it turns into a decent possession, but Reilly was like 10-for-10 on those shots.”
That was the start of a 17-0 run for the Bombardiers that turned the game on its head. Johnson got a couple baskets in the paint and freshman point guard Narissa Smith (six points and seven assists) scored five straight, drilling a three and scoring off a steal. Bosh added another layup from a Smith steal and Attleboro led 32-17.
Molla hit a three to cut the lead to 12 at halftime, but the damage had been done for the visitors.
Crowley said, “The second quarter we took off. We made adjustments against their press and we just kept attacking the basket. A lot of it is with our guards, we took the ball to where it’s supposed to be.”
Glaser hit her second three to start the second half and cut the lead down to nine, but it only momentarily stemmed the tide, as Attleboro followed with a 10-0 run. Gordon caught fire in the third, scoring eight points largely by crashing the boards.
KP answered back with a 9-0 run of its own and twice got the score down to 10 but couldn’t get it back to single digits.
“We just didn’t play great today,” Nagle admitted. “I think we were just a second late all weekend and I think a lot of that comes from not being able to play all week and not being in the gym at all. It’s part of this year. I told the kids, Attleboro isn’t going to feel bad that we weren’t in the gym, they’re going to come and take it to us and I think they did.”
Lafond knocked down a three, Marsden turned a steal into a layup, Aaron did the same, but each time Attleboro would have a response to keep the Warriors at bay. Bosh hit a tough floater and Kayla Goldrick knocked down a jumper, and Reilly continued to be dangerous in the mid-range.
Attleboro led 50-36 heading into the fourth and used an 11-4 run to extend the lead to as many as 21 points. KP tried to turn the pressure up a notch and started forcing turnovers, but the shots just wouldn’t fall consistently. Sawyer (10 points and eight boards) hit a three and Glaser had seven points in the fourth, but Attleboro held onto a big enough lead to keep things comfortable to the final whistle.
“That’s the joy of building a lead,” said Crowley. “We got it up to 19 and then they made that run on us there to get it down. You get a stop, het a hoop, get a free throw and you’re back in business again.
“We’ve got a lot of kids doing things well for us on both ends right now. We gained our composure again. Our thing is just to win quarters and that’s what we did today.”
Attleboro (5-1) remain one back in the loss column to league-leading Franklin, which hosts the Bombardiers on Tuesday. King Philip (3-5) will close out its league campaign with two against Taunton this week.
WRENTHAM, Mass. – After playing at King Philip’s pace for the opening eight minutes and heading into the first break down by a point, Franklin coach John Leighton implored his team to slow things down, move the ball around, and look for good shots not just the first shot.
Over the next two quarters, the Panthers did just that, scoring 40 points in the second and third quarters combined and turning that deficit into an 18-point lead. Franklin would lead by as many as 25 points in the fourth and earned a sweep of the Warriors with a 62-48 victory.
“Something you never want is a slow start and that’s exactly what we had,” said Leighton. “We had way too many turnovers, we went too fast, but what I was impressed by is that by the end of the quarter they had bought into the idea of slowing it down, seeing the next step, and when you start getting defensive stops they can’t press as much.”
KP had the Panthers on the run in the first, playing the frenetic style that the Warriors thrive on. After back-to-back threes by Emma Glaser and Courtney Keswick (10 points), the hosts held a 10—6 lead. Olivia Quinn (game-high 22 points, six rebounds, and four steals) answered back with a three of her own and a layup to put Franklin in front, but Caroline Aaron’s drive to the basket put the Warriors up 12-11 after one.
Franklin has plenty of experience on its roster and the players talked in the huddle about the need to settle down and play their game. The defending state champions started to look more like themselves in the second.
Brigid Earley scored six of her 10 points in the second, as Franklin made an effort to get the ball inside. Elizabeth Molla responded with a three that cut the lead back to three, at 25-22, but the Panthers scored the final seven points of the half to lead by double digits.
Elizabeth Wilson crashed the boards for a putback and then Earley (four assists, seven rebounds, and two blocks) picked out Quinn for a short jumper. Quinn was the focal point of the offense, scoring eight points in the second and 13 in the first half, as Franklin led 33-22.
“I said to them that we were down 11 at halftime, but it felt like it could’ve been tied,” said KP coach Dan Nagle, who was on the bench for the first time this season. “We had a couple of live-ball turnovers where we missed wide open layups and they go down and we get a steal and throw it to them right under the basket. You can’t even be mad because your kids are flying around and working hard.”
Things clicked into high gear for the visitors in the third. After Jackie Bonner (eight points) drilled a three to start the second half, Franklin went on a 16-0 run to break the game open.
KP scored seven straight to get some momentum, including threes by Cat Spellman and Keswick, but Peterson’s offensive rebound and layup put the Panthers ahead by 18 heading to the fourth.
Leighton said, “This year, we have three or four kids who can score every night. The pressure isn’t on Liv to carry us on her back, we have a lot of kids who can contribute. This is the deepest group we’ve had in a very long time.”
One of the features of Franklin’s play was its passing. Quaile finished with eight assists, while Earley had four and Padula had three. The Panthers were spreading the ball around and making it difficult for KP to trap.
“Unselfish ball is good, especially today,” Leighton explained. “When they’re going to double you, they’re trying to make you go faster, so if you can pass and find the open kid then everyone has more time. It buys time and space.”
That continued at the start of the fourth, as Quinn hit a short jumper after a good drive and kick out by Bridget Leo and then Quinn played provider on a corner three by Emma Sousa, who had missed the first three games of the season. Franklin stretched its lead to 60-35.
Although a comeback was unlikely at that point, the Warriors never stopped running and pressing and kept battling to the final whistle. Bonner had a steal and layup and Julia Marsden assisted on Keswick’s third three of the afternoon. Aaron (11 points) had another drive through the lane and stepped back to knock down a three of her own to help the Warriors cut the deficit to 14.
“Us just realizing that all those little plays matter is a good lesson,” Nagle said. “Franklin is where we want to be eventually and we competed with them at a high level. We had them playing faster than they want to, we turned them over a good amount. Today was progress, not perfection, but it was a good effort.”
Franklin (4-0) will have a few days off before it faces Taunton on Thursday, while King Philip (1-3) will look to get back in the win column when it faces Milford on Tuesday.
2019-2020 Record: 10-12 2019-2020 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Martin Crowley
After a couple of rebuilding years, Attleboro made a jump last winter and clinched its return to the playoffs in the final game of the regular season. While the Bombardiers will miss the all-around game of Nyah Thomas, who is at Worcester State after a breakout senior season, Attleboro will count on six returners from last year’s roster and a couple of promising newcomers to make some noise in the Kelley-Rex.
Thomas’ scoring and ball-handling will be tough to replicate, but the Bombardiers have strength and athleticism in the post. Junior Meg Gordon developed into a double-double machine last year, using her quickness and length to cause problems in the paint. Senior Ryan Johnson is another forward with length that can impact the game on the glass and protecting the rim.
In the backcourt, senior Gabby Bosh is back to run the point as well as being a pesky defender. Juniors Hailey and Lindsey Perry will also add to the depth at the guard position and to the team’s overall speed and defensive effort. Freshmen guards Kayla Goldrick and Narissa Smith are newcomers that have the potential to make an instant impact and should immediately find themselves in the backcourt rotation.
Attleboro coach Marty Crowley said, “For us to be successful we must be able to play defense consistently and rebound. This is by far the most athletic team we have had and hopefully we can use that to our advantage. We are blessed to be in the gym everyday with such great kids and that is a win in itself.”
2019-2020 Record: 13-10 2019-2020 Finish: Reached D2 South First Round Coach: Jim Choquette
Canton has been a youthful team with potential for the past two seasons and the Bulldogs come into the winter with an opportunity to turn that potential into the program’s first league title since 1992. After graduating just one player from last year’s team and with many of its standout players now in year three as starters, Canton has the experience to match its talent.
Juniors Fay and Sydney Gallery and Kiara Cerruti have been standouts since their first games as freshmen and have the all-around games to cause match-up problems for the opposition. All three can score from the perimeter, but Sydney gives the Bulldogs a presence on the post while Fay can score off the dribble and be a playmaker on offense. Cerruti is a pure scorer, with good range and the ability to take defenders off the bounce.
Depth should be a strength for the Bulldogs this season, with players able to come off the bench and produce at every position. Carly Fitzgerald and Marissa Staffiere will return in the backcourt, giving Canton solid ball-handlers and a pair of strong defenders. Senior Kayla Albert adds length and rebounding in the paint and sophomore Samya DaSilva showed off great footwork last year and will be another scoring threat on the block.
“I’m very excited to take the floor with this group of girls,” said Canton coach Jim Choquette. “I love their desire to improve, win games and represent the town of Canton to the best of their abilities. We all want to improve on our past successes, and we’ve been working hard to do so. Very lucky to be coaching this team!”
2019-2020 Record: 24-2 2019-2020 Finish: D2 State Co-Champion Coach: Lisa Downs
Foxboro closed out the 2019-20 season by winning its final 16 games and securing a second state title in the past three seasons. The Warriors graduated four starters from last year’s team, so players will have to step into bigger roles this season and newcomers will have to produce right away to make it five straight Davenport titles.
Defense and tempo are the hallmarks of Foxboro’s success under head coach Lisa Downs and that should be the same this year. For scoring, the Warriors are going to count on senior Katelyn Mollica. One of the top players in the league for the past three seasons, the Stonehill College-commit is one of the league’s top shooters and strong help defender. Senior Jordyn Collins is another key component from last year’s team, as a tenacious defender and a slasher who can get to the rim.
Senior Hannah Blake will step into the starting lineup at center this winter and Downs thinks that she has the potential to be one of the best bigs in the league. Senior Morgan Sylvestre had some big moments last year (for instance, the D2 South final against Hingham) and will see more time at point guard this year. Freshmen guards Camryn Collins and Erin Foley will both be in the mix right away and sophomore Lauren Miley is back after missing all of last year with an injury.
“We graduated a large chunk of our roster from last season so we will have quite a few new faces on the court to accompany Katelyn,” Downs said. “We will continue to focus on our defensive efforts and will strive to pursue the fast pace that we have become familiar with. Safety of the girls is obviously my first concern, but it is also my hope to be able to provide the most fulfilling season possible in terms of overall improvement on both ends of the court.”
2019-2020 Record: 25-0 2019-2020 Finish: D1 State Co-Champion Coach: John Leighton
Last winter, Franklin went start-to-finish as the top team not only in the league but in the state and capped off an undefeated season with the program’s first state championship. The graduation of center Ali Brigham, who was arguably the program’s best-ever player, is a big change for the Panthers this year but there is plenty of talent and experience on the roster to make a push for a three-peat of Kelley-Rex titles.
Junior Olivia Quinn is one of the main reasons that the Panthers are considered the favorites in the Kelley-Rex again this year. Quinn scored nearly 400 points and was one of the top three or four players in the league last season. She continues to develop and improve and will be the focal point of the offense this year. Senior Erin Quaile is the two-time Defensive Player of the Year but is also a solid point guard who limits turnovers, calms things down, and gets Franklin into its sets.
The offense will obviously look a little different this year, without a 6-foot-3 center in the middle, but the Panthers have talent on the wings to cause problems. Seniors Elizabeth Wilson and Kaleigh Houlihan, and junior Stefany Padula can all stretch the defense with their ability to knock down perimeter shots. The forward position should also be strong with Emma Sousa, Brigid Early, and Katie Peterson giving Franklin length and athleticism on the block.
“We are excited to be back on the court and I have been very impressed by our depth,” said Franklin coach John Leighton. “Our girls have been committed to getting better and competing on every play.”
2019-2020 Record: 12-9 2019-2020 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Dan Nagle
King Philip head coach Dan Nagle has implemented a unique system based on high pressure and constant running. The Warriors don’t have to worry about shot clock violations. With a roster of athletic players who will all be counted on at some point and have a year of experience in the system, Nagle hopes this year’s team can create even more chaos that last winter and push Franklin at the top of the Kelley-Rex.
Senior Emma Glaser is the team’s top returning scorer and the Springfield College-commit will be counted on to take a step up, as the Warriors lost their top three scorers to graduation and transfers. Glaser is an athletic wing with range out beyond the three-point line. Athleticism is a common theme for this roster. Senior Caroline Aaron is another versatile wing who can contribute on both ends of the floor.
Depth won’t be an issue for the Warriors, who regularly sub five players at once and everyone gets playing time. Junior guards Elizabeth Molla, Liv Lafond, Grace Clyde, and Julia Marsden will provide scoring punch. At 6-foot-3, sophomore center Emily Sawyer gives KP a unique weapon in the middle and looks more comfortable with the speed at varsity. Senior Courtney Keswick battled injuries last year but is back healthy and gives KP a consistent three-point threat. Sophomore Jackie Bonner is a scorer being moved up from JV who could be poised for a breakout year.
Nagle said, “It’s year two in the system, so the learning curve has been a lot smaller and kids are picking things up fast. What we do is no secret. It’s going to be pandemonium every game, win or lose. This year’s team might even be a better fit for it because generally we have better team speed and it being year two makes a huge difference.”
2019-2020 Record: 9-14 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Heather McPherson
After more than two decades in charge, Mike Redding retired as head coach after last season. There will be some continuity for the program however, as former player and assistant coach Heather McPherson will move into the first seat this year. McPherson can count on continuity on the floor as well, with six seniors among the returning players for the Hornets.
While the Hornets missed the playoffs last year, they also had some impressive wins against playoff teams along the way, beating Attleboro, King Philip, and Bishop Feehan. Senior Kayla Vine was one of the league’s top perimeter shooters and also a solid playmaker with her ability to get into the paint. Senior Ashley Santos extended her range as a shooter last year was a strong all-around player that was a tough matchup on both ends of the court. Sophomore Abby Wager showed flashes of her potential as a scorer during a strong rookie season and her development could be a big boost this year.
Mansfield will have plenty of depth to call on. Senior Ally Prentis adds another shooter, senior Sarah Dooling is another versatile forward, and seniors Brooke Berube and Kacey Veiking give the Hornets a lot of height in the paint. Junior Anna Darlington and sophomore Olivia Salisbury should see more time in the backcourt.
McPherson said, “I couldn’t ask for a better senior group to begin my varsity coaching career, they have set an exciting tone to the season with their energy, effort, enthusiasm. With all of the uncertainty that this year has brought we are excited for the opportunity to be playing basketball. For us to compete each night we will need to play good fundamental basketball.”
2019-2020 Record: 3-17 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: TJ Dolliver
While Milford went winless in league play last year, the Hawks lost no one to graduation and will have seven seniors on this season’s roster. Experience will be a key for Milford, which for the first time will be playing in the Kelley-Rex division. Although the Hawks have struggled at times offensively, no one can argue with the team’s effort and athleticism, especially on defense (ask state champion Foxboro, which was held to just 44 points last year) and that should once again be the team’s strength.
Senior Emma Lawrence will be the team’s focal point this year after an all-star junior season. Lawrence has long arms, endless energy, and the ability to get to the basket. Fellow senior Jillian Michelson is another player who will shadow the opposing team’s top offensive player and use her speed and length to cause problems. Sophomore Brooke Ferreira stepped in at point guard last year and had an impressive rookie campaign. Her ball-handling and ability to get into the lane was critical to the team’s offense, which could at times struggle from the perimeter.
Milford is not a tall team, but the Hawks have several versatile forwards that crash the boards and will make it tough for teams to score in the paint. Seniors Carly Ferreira, Katie Maietta, and Elise Fauerbach add physicality on the block for a team that likes to get up and pressure the ball.
“Having a senior-heavy roster and a team of hard working girls, this season will be a lot of fun,” said Milford coach TJ Dolliver.
2019-2020 Record: 9-11 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Nikki Correia
Under first-year head coach Nikki Correia, North Attleboro bounced back last year and went into the final game of the regular season with a chance of clinching a return to the postseason. Although Big Red missed out on the tournament, the Rocketeers come into this season with optimism. A year of experience in Correia’s system and a strong corps of returning players gives North hopes of springing a surprise in the Davenport division.
Senior guard Amanda Kaiser will remain the focal point for opposing defenses and will force them to extend beyond the three-point line to prevent her from getting going. Kaiser is also a strong defender, who can kickstart the North break by forcing turnovers. Sophomore Summer Doherty is another wing player whose quickness and length causes problems on defense and her strength allows her to get into the lane on offense.
Senior Siobhan Weir keeps things calm even as North tries to get out and run as often as possible, while also adding a strong mid-range game. Senior Lydia Santos missed last season with injury and will be another strong ball-handler and leader in the backcourt. Sophomore Ava McKeon had an impressive rookie season on the wing and uses her strength and athleticism to get into the lane and her energy to get on the boards. Fellow sophomore Taylor McMath got called up last season and made an instant impact as a post player. North isn’t the tallest team, but McMath gives the Rocketeers extra length in the paint on both ends of the floor.
“I know with my team they have been so excited just to be on the basketball court again with their teammates and ready to compete,” said Correia. “Overall we have a strong unit and I can not wait to start the basketball season and see what these girls will do as a team. They all bring different strengths to the game so once they can mesh it all together on the court it will be great to see.”
2019-2020 Record: 14-7 2019-2020 Finish: Reached D1 South First Round Coach: Laney Clement-Holbrook
Oliver Ames is back in the Davenport division for the first time since 2016, when the Tigers won their last league title. OA returns with the goal of ending Foxboro’s four-year run as the top team in the division and has a talented, experienced roster to try and win the program’s Hock-best 23rd league title.
The Tigers pushed Franklin for the Kelley-Rex crown all the way to the final week of league play last year and that experience has given them added confidence heading into the new season. Injuries took their toll down the stretch, but when fully healthy OA boasts one of the deepest rosters in the league. Caroline Flynn is more of a point forward than a point guard but she has developed into one of the league’s top playmakers, while also being one of its top rebounding guards. Caroline Peper battled a back injury all of last season, but when healthy is one of the top shooters in the Hock.
Junior Hailey Bourne has emerged as one of the top defensive players in the league, capable of guarding players on the perimeter or in the post. Senior Jess Erlich adds shooting from her forward position. OA has six returning players who will be bolstered by an exciting crop of newcomers, including freshman guard Jasmyn Cooper.
OA coach Laney Clement-Holbrook, who passed the 700-win mark last season, said, “OA’s strengths will come from the depth of their lineup and a cast of young and upcoming players with great intensity and love for the game. Despite the challenges associated with pandemic, OA is excited to have the chance to play this season and value every second they get to compete for the top spot.”
2019-2020 Record: 4-16 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Sandy Lombardi
Sharon finished with only four wins last season, but the Eagles also lost seven games by 10 points or less, including five games by five points or fewer and twice lost by a single basket. With a good core of versatile players returning, the Eagles are hoping to make a move up the standings in what continues to be a competitive Davenport division.
The graduations of Ally Brown and Kaitlyn Wallace take away two of the team’s top ball-handlers and perimeter scorers, but the Eagles can make up for that with strength in the paint. Senior Leah Fandel and junior Trinity Payne are difference makers on both ends of the court, capable of crashing the boards, protecting the rim, and offering interior scoring. Both players are capable of stepping back and knocking down short jumpers too, adding a different dimension to the offense.
Sophomore guards Tess Letendre and Emily Freeman will be counted on to pick up some of the slack on the perimeter and get the Eagles into their offensive sets. Seniors Gaby Cabral and Julia Early will also be counted on to take bigger roles this season. The Eagles will also have a pair of freshmen, Rachel Hager and Eva Poulton, who will be expected to contribute right away.
“I’m excited for the girls to have an opportunity to play this season,” said Sharon coach Sandy Lombardi. “Looking back a few months ago I would not have imagined us having a season at all.”
2019-2020 Record: 9-11 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Charmaine Steele Jordan
Stoughton narrowly missed out on a playoff spot last year, falling just one win short of qualifying for the tournament (that included a one-point loss to North Attleboro midway through the season). The Black Knights will have to try and make up for the graduation of their two leading scorers, Aliyah Wright and Shyanne Trinh, but head coach Charmaine Steele Jordan expects that this year’s roster will live up to the program’s standard of hustle, hard work, and aggressiveness.
Mackenzie Manning is the team’s top returning scorer and Steele Jordan is counting on the senior guard to provide leadership and passion for the younger players. Fellow seniors Cate Downey and Jess Maddalena (who is out for the season with an injury) are also going to be counted on to set the tone for the team.
Junior guard Makaiyah Singleton Rivera saw plenty of time last year and gives the Black Knights a boost of speed and energy on the perimeter. There are also several underclassmen who will be jumping up to varsity and could add important minutes this season. Sophomore guards Kiara Scardina and Shayla Ford and freshman forward Alyssa Edwards are newcomers to keep an eye on this season.
Steele Jordan said, “I’m really thankful for all the players that came out for our program this year in the middle of pandemic. Looking forward to kicking off the season in 2021. Our goals have not changed, the Black Knights will play hard, play together and represent the Stoughton community with pride this season.”
2019-2020 Record: 5-15 2019-2020 Finish: Missed postseason Coach: Amy Siggens
Taunton has struggled to get going this winter, as practices were halted after just three days and the teams won’t resume basketball activities until next week, which has forced the opening games with Attleboro to be postponed. The Tigers will also be without last year’s leading scorer, sophomore Kameron St. Pierre, who has opted out. With all of that, second-year head coach Amy Siggens is still excited that the team this season and building on the fundamentals of her system.
The Tigers will be an experienced, if still young, team this season. Seniors Jaelyn and Sonya Fernandez will be the focal points on the offensive end. They are both versatile players capable of stepping back and knocking down shots and also taking their defenders off the dribble. Their athleticism on both ends of the court makes them a tough matchup. They also provide leadership for a team that is building consistency. The Tigers won five games last year, but also lost seven times by single digits, including once in overtime.
A strength of the team will be its depth in the backcourt. Senior Tori DaRosa is a tough defender and gets the Tigers into their sets. Juniors Abby Souza and Braeley McDonald are also strong options to provide shooting off the bench. Sophomore Maddie Michenzie can be a force on the boards and adds a different dimension in the post on both ends of the court.
“We’re rolling with the punches here,” said Siggens about having to postpone practices until the New Year. “Everyday is something new and you just have to adjust. We’re focusing on the leadership of our seniors but also the development of our young kids. This is a year to really pull it back and go after the fundamentals and the basics.”
NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Even on nights when the shots aren’t falling, playing with the type of frenetic style that King Philip imposed on Friday night’s game at North Attleboro’s Pickering Gym means that even with a low shooting percentage teams can put up plenty of points.
KP put that theory into practice on Friday, pulling out a 65-56 non-league victory against North despite both teams struggling to hold onto the ball or knock down shots from the floor or from the line (combined 30-of-59 on free throws).
“I thought we missed a lot of shots that we usually make but to still score 65 and get up and down like we did is a testament to our pace,” KP coach Dan Nagle explained. “I thought we just played hard and battled through some adversity.”
Both teams like to run, but this was not just about getting out in transition. KP pressured, trapped, and harassed the Rocketeers the length of the court, taking advantage of its depth to maintain the pace throughout the 32 minutes.
While it was a game played to KP’s strengths, North hung around, falling behind by as many as 16 points in the third quarter but then getting as close as seven in the fourth.
“They’re fast and under control,” said North coach Nikki Correia. “We’re fast and a little out of control right now. I kept having to remind them we’re in this game guys, settle down. Too much hanging our heads. I’m trying to get them used to the running so they can play through it.”
The hosts jumped out to an early 6-0 lead by breaking the KP press. Olivia Forbes (six points and five assists) set up Regan Fein for a jumper, Amanda Kaiser hit a pull-up jumper in transition and Eliza Dion got an easy basket on the break.
North couldn’t sustain the momentum and the Warriors started to turn the screw defensively, finishing the first on a 12-1 run. Seven different players scored in the first. Freshman Claire Keswick put KP in front for good with an offensive rebound that made it 9-7. Another putback, this time by Emma Glaser (nine points and six boards) closed out the quarter.
KP continued to build the lead in the second. Brianna James (team-high 15 points) hit a pair of threes and Faye Veilleux (seven points and eight rebounds) got a layup on the break to put the Warriors up 22-9 and seemingly on the brink of breaking the game wide open.
The Rocketeers battled back, cutting the lead to as few as six. Kaiser (16 points and seven rebounds) got a pair of baskets in transition, first on a Dion assist and then one off a steal. Dion added six of her game-high 19 points in the quarter, including four points at the line.
James closed the half with a swooping layup that made it 31-21 at the break. The teams had combined for 24 fouls in the first half alone and went a combined 14-for-32 at the charity stripe. If either team could’ve made their foul shots, then the game may have turned out differently.
“At half we were down 10 and we had missed 10 free throws,” Correia said. “That’s the difference right there. A lot of them were short because their legs were shot.”
The second half had a similar pattern, as KP extended its lead to as many as 16 points on two occasions. Kaiser buried a pair of threes in the third to make it 40-30, but then KP answered back with threes from Courtney Keswick and Elizabeth Molla to push the lead out.
“I’ve asked her to play their best offensive girl, so on offense she’s tired,” Correia said of Kaiser. “She’s running and she’s working, so we have to try and figure out ways to take some of that off her on the defensive end so we can get her going on the offensive end.”
North made another run to close the gap before the end of the quarter. Dion continued to be a force in the paint for the hosts, scoring nine points in the third. Correia said, “Very proud of Eliza, how hard she fought inside and the finishing, which is what we need. The little things I’m starting to see like that is what we need going forward.”
After a pair of offensive rebounds by Fein kept a possession alive for the Rocketeers, Forbes nailed a three that made it just 49-41. Keswick was there to answer back with another three of her own to make it an 11-point game heading to the fourth.
A pair of free throws by Fein and a putback by Kaiser had North within seven early in the fourth, but Glaser got free in the corner on a Veilleux kick out to make the lead double digits and Liv Lafond added three more with an offensive rebound and the foul. Rebounding was a big edge for the Warriors, with Taylor Butler and Emily Sawyer each grabbing 11 on the night.
“We pride ourselves of getting after it on the offensive glass and I thought we did a great job 1-14 of getting to the glass,” said Nagle, who referenced the team’s poor shooting night when he added, “You’ve got to go rebound it if you miss it.”
Freshman Ava McKeon went behind her back to slice through the KP press for a layup. Fein knocked down a jumper on an inbound play, and Summer Doherty got free for a layup, as North was proving hard to put away. But time ran out on the comeback attempt, as Faith Roy’s (seven points) late drive to the rim sealed the win for the Warriors.
“Her kids never quit and they kept coming back,” Nagle said. “Every time I thought we were going to put them away, I’d look up and it’s an eight-point game again. It was punch, counterpunch.”
King Philip (3-1) will travel to Bishop Feehan for another non-league game on Monday, while North Attleboro (1-3) is off until after the New Year when it travels to division rival Sharon.